ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

We All Have A Messy Room

Updated on May 9, 2011

Shel Silverstein's writing is

See results

Time To Clean?

Messy Room

Whosever room this is should be ashamed!
His underwear is hanging on the lamp.
His raincoat is there in the overstuffed chair,
And the chair is becoming quite mucky and damp.
His workbook is wedged in the window,
His sweater's been thrown on the floor.
His scarf and one ski are beneath the TV,
And his pants have been carelessly hung on the door.
His books are all jammed in the closet,
His vest has been left in the hall.
A lizard named Ed is asleep in his bed,
And his smelly old sock has been stuck to the wall.
Whosever room this is should be ashamed!
Donald or Robert or Willie or--
Huh? You say it's mine? Oh, dear,
I knew it looked familiar!

-Shel Silverstein-

Though this poem is obviously geared towards children, Messy Room by Shel Silverstein can be enjoyed by everyone. Its humor never ages. The poet’s words are understandable and well-chosen. The ending continues to surprise. There are many layers to this poem.

On the surface, we are presented with a messy room. Objects are scattered about. It smells in there. Cleaning has stopped being a much needed chore and has now become a health issue. Someone is going to trip and hurt themselves. The fumes from the socks are bound to damage the occupant’s lungs. It’s depressing to look at this room.

The speaker starts to point fingers. Whoever calls this room home is a bad person. They do not care about order. They are selfish and want to risk not only their own life, but the life of whoever ventures beyond the room’s threshold. Let’s find out who owns this room and make them do something about it.

Suddenly, a most embarrassing thing happens. The speaker realizes that the room belongs to them. All of the nasty things they’ve said have been directed back at themselves. Blushing, they say, “Oh dear. I know it looked familiar!” They quickly regret what they’ve been saying. Their embarrassment is meant to get them off of the hook.

I once heard that having clutter is a sign of a well-lived life. We collect objects by venturing out into the world to buy them and by becoming liked enough to receive gifts. By not throwing said items out, we show that we value them. We have hearts big enough to hold each object associated memory. We have minds sharp and imaginative enough to find worth in every scrap. In theory, an untidy room is the room of someone to be admired.

On the other hand, with so much clutter, where will we put the things that really matter? If everything is measured the same way, how will we know when there is something truly special in front of us? For each item the speaker mentions, you can be sure there is a memory attached to it, even the stinky sock. Yet, it is on the floor, not in a place where it won’t get accidentally destroyed. Could it be that the speaker has collected so many things that he doesn’t know where to put them?

If you believe in Feng Shui, you know that messy rooms often make for messy lives and vice versa. Personally, my room or any space I live in is rarely clean. I see the point in cleaning, but I also can think of ten others things to do with the time I would use to clean. I do know that when my room is clean, I think more clearly. Yet, I detest having to throw things out so cleaning for me is a stressful and irregular time. I also can’t do other forms of cleaning. My mind is full and could use some tidying up. I hold grudges for years. I remember everything especially the negative stuff. Considering Feng Shui, my spiritual balance is way off.

Being that I’ve always been analytical, I never took the poem at face value. This poem is not just about a messy room, written to inspire people to clean. To me, the poem is the sum of someone’s life. We criticize others, seeing only their faults. When we realize that we have been indirectly criticizing ourselves, we stop dead in our tracks. We don’t want to be critiqued. Knowing why we are the way we are, we seek to have our flaws forgiven or simply ignored. Yet, when we note the flaws of others, we open ourselves up to the same treatment. Our messy lives become the topic of gossip.

We often dislike in others what we dislike the most in ourselves. In a way, we hope by criticizing someone we will find a way to fix ourselves. It is easier to ask others to comment on someone else than asking them to comment on you. Never really leaving the school yard, it is easier to gossip than confront.

Through his poem, Silverstein reminds us that life is complicated. When we leave no room for failure, we are bound to fail. As with the ending of the poem so it is with life, we don’t find out how wrong we are until we’ve really put our foot in it. Silverstein urges us to stand accountable for our actions. We all have messy rooms. What right have we to criticize?

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      MAtthewS 

      8 years ago

      i love this poem- messy room. This poem really makes good metaphor. I mean, in my opinion, he is comparing his room to a person's life. He is saying how someone's life can be out of control no matter how much person planned for it.

      Just love this poem...

    • k@ri profile image

      Kari Poulsen 

      9 years ago from Ohio

      Ohhh, if I could only clean house! I guess I'll just have to do it one room at a time. It takes sooo long!

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)